New this week: Kotique douche ad (Kotex, U.S.A., 1972) - Venus compressed sanitary napkins, traveling package (U.S.A., probably 1930s - 1940s) - humor

PREVIOUS NEWS | news | first page | contact the museum | art of menstruation | artists (non-menstrual) | belts | bidets | Bly, Nellie | MUM board | books (and reviews) | cats | company booklets directory | costumes | cups | cup usage | dispensers | douches, pain, sprays | essay directory | extraction | famous people | FAQ | humor | huts | links | media | miscellaneous | museum future | Norwegian menstruation exhibit | odor | pad directory | patent medicine | poetry directory | products, current | religion | menstrual products safety | science | shame | sponges | synchrony | tampon directory | early tampons | teen ads directory | tour (video) | underpants directory | videos, films directory | washable pads | LIST OF ALL TOPICS

Is Menstruation Obsolete?

Not yet, but . . . .

Read why several items down.

Letters to Your MUM

Two writers reply to a letter from a woman who uses an IUD (intrauterine device, a small object inserted into the uterus to prevent conception):

Hi, Harry!

I was reading your News and Notes page, as I do faithfully every week (me being one of your fans, and all), and I was mystified by the lady who complained that she couldn't use Instead menstrual cup (Web site) or The Keeper menstrual cup (Web site) because she had an IUD. She implied that she couldn't use tampons either. I used to use an IUD, and there were no menstrual cups on the market at that time (1980s) but I sure used those tampons! In fact, my flow was so heavy because of the IUD that I regularly used two tampons and a full-sized pad together for three hours protection.

I wonder if she was confused by her doctor's instructions. Doctors prefer to insert an IUD during a period because the cervix is slightly more open then. The woman may be cautioned not to use tampons during that one period only because her cervix has been dilated a bit, leaving her more vulnerable to infection for several days.

Perhaps medical science has marched on, and doctors have changed their advice, but if I were her I would ask my doctor (call the office and ask to speak with the nurse) or ask Planned Parenthood or a similar organization.

With those magic words, Planned Parenthood swoops in:


I talked to some clinic workers about this question [letter above] and we all agree:

If the woman does not have any issues with infection with her IUD or bad irritation and everything is normal, then she should have no problem using a menstrual cup. However, she should remember to empty the cup frequently to eliminate the chance of bacteria growing in the cup around her cervix.

Instead cups would be ideal for a person who wants to wear a cup: they're disposable, so put in a clean one in when the old one is taken out. After all, a woman can wear a tampon with an IUD, so a menstrual cup is not much different.

As a reminder: a woman should always wash her hands before inserting a tampon or menstrual cup, or before she checks the string of her IUD to make sure it's in place. This reduces the chance of introducing any bacteria that may be on the hand into the vagina.

Hope that answers your question.

Take Care,

Jenifer Horowitz
Planned Parenthood
Baltimore, Maryland

OK, pains in the a--, read THIS!

While I think it's a bit weird for a man to be interested enough to create a museum, it was actually interesting to me. I didn't find anything personally offensive; besides, it's not very difficult to leave a site you find.

Hang in there, pay no attention to those pains in the a--.

Lotsa luck

Menstrual sponges in the United Kingdom (see some older ones):

Hi, Mr Finley,

Readers in the UK can buy menstrual sponges from Moontime Alternatives at 01428 684061 and natural tampons from Natracare 0117 9466649 (no Web sites).

The Keeper menstrual cup is now available in England at (I still have not convinced my Mom)!

I have told all my friends about your super site. Super plus with wings, it should be! We are all glad you are better after your operation.


Buy washable pads here:

I haven't had time to surf through all of your big and wonderful site yet, so this might be premature: would you be interested in linking to a site I do? Myself and a friend have a "herbal, natural & handcrafted" products business, and one of the things we make and sell are reusable polar fleece menstrual pads (hope to send you some samples in the future!).

I haven't a good image of them at the moment, or I'd e-mail you the image file. Anyway, if you have time, please visit our site and see if you're interested in linking - I'd sure like to include a link in our site so our visitors to find out about your site! Is that o.k. with you? [Sure!]


Andrea Goodman

From a chick in Australia:

Hi, Harry!

How are ya :-). Just thought I'd drop you a line.

I wandered across the MUM page, somehow! It is really quite amazing. Something else altogether. I'm a teenage chick from Australia. I think it's a great idea, especially "demystifying" it. I was quite amused to read, after about 10 pages, that the creator was actually a bloke. Hmm.

Well, I had a bit of a think-sesh about it, and my conclusion is - shrug. I don't mind or care or think you should be a woman. You do a good job. That's the important thing :-). [Thanks!]

My only other comment would be, a couple more English translations for some of the ads wouldn't go astray. But don't sweat it. MUM rocks! :-) [I try to translate what I can if it seems essential, but time is a huge factor. And I'm limited to German, some French and varying amounts of Norwegian, Danish and Swedish.]


I stayed up past my bedtime to bask in this late-breaking e-mail:

Dear Mr. F,

My daughters, 18 and 15, turned me on to your Web page. You are wonderful! Not only is it informative and creative, but also funny as hell! I believe there is simply not enough openness in the U.S. about our bodies and how they work, and the wonder of it all. Anything that educates as well as amuses is to be commended. (Yikes, that sounds VERY stuffy, doesn't it?) [No, no, keep writing!!]

You can tell the members of your family who disapprove (for me) that they need to view life with a bit more reality and humor. [YOU tell them! Wait, I have their phone numbers here.] They should be (and I, for one, am) extremely proud of you.

I would love to visit the Museum, should things work out for you. Keep up the wonderful work you do. [I will! Thank you! This was worth staying up for!]


[I withheld the name; my choice]

Mom, nurse, and health educator of adolescent girls.

What's behind bagging toilet paper and menstrual products? Response to a discussion last week:

Hi Harry,

The real reason for plastic-bagging menstrual supplies and packets of toilet rolls has nothing to do with shame [which was my interpretation], but rather with protecting paper goods from moisture. Groceries themselves, as well as wet weather, can be damp: condensation on cold food and drink containers, misted lettuces and squishy fruits from the produce aisle, leaky bottles. Probably the main concern is weather damage; I'd guess that this practice is more common in humid or northern climates. Then again, here in California one can buy re-usable cotton canvas tote bags in grocery stores, thus avoiding the whole "paper or plastic" question!

A further note on the subject of water damage: Non-applicator o.b.tampons are wonderful things; they're small enough to fit in any purse or pocket. However, they're small enough to "lose" in a pocket. I realized this after pulling a pair of drawstring pants out of the clothes dryer and finding the pocket contained tiny bits of cellophane, blue string, and something that looked like a fluffy bunny-rabbit tail: this is what happens when an o.b. tampon goes through the washer and dryer.

Long Life and Good Fortune

Is Menstruation Obsolete?

Many women, probably the majority, would like it to be; other women consider it such a part of being female that they celebrate their periods.

A book (Is Menstruation Obsolete?, Oxford University Press, 1999; buy it) just appeared that proclaims a world-wide campaign to stamp it out. [Read another opinion in favor of stopping, by the Brazilian physician who is the author of Is Menstruation Obsolete? (Oxford University Press, 1999), and an opposing opinion, by another Brazilian, gynecologist Dr. Nelso Soucasaux. And read the position of the menstrual suppression panel of the June 2003 conference of The Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.]

Authors Elsimar M. Coutinho, M.D., Ph.D., professor of gynecology, obstetrics and human reproduction at the school of medicine of the Federal University of Bahia, Brazil; and Sheldon J. Segal, Ph.D., M.D. (h.c.), Distinguished Scientist at the Population Council, New York, and former director for Population Sciences at the Rockefeller Foundation - with a forword by Kate Miller, of the University of Pennsylvania - write:

Recurrent menstruation is unnecessary and can be harmful to the health of women. It is a needless loss of blood. . . .

Freeing women of menstruation significantly reduces the risk of life-threatening disease such as ovarian and uterine (endometrial) cancers. The longer a woman is not menstruating, the greater the benefit. . . .

Menstrual cycle-related diseases are now appearing more frequently because modern women are menstruating more often than women did in the past. . . .

Menstrual cycle-related problems account for fully 50 percent of women's gynecological complaints. . . .

We envisage a campaign involving both the public and private sectors, engaging the medical profession to educate the public about the uselessness of menstruation for women not actively seeking pregnancy. The campaign could be promoted in parallel with family-planning programs that inform women of the benefits of oral hormonal contraceptives and long-acting products that inhibit ovulation. . . .

The postponement of menarche by delaying activation of the hormonal axis that triggers ovulation can add several menstruation-free years in a young girl's life when being sexually developed is neither necessary nor without risk.
In countries where the age of menarche is early, pregnancies in very young girls are common. . . .

In Brazil, almost thirty thousand pregnancies in girls age ten and eleven were reported in 1995. Family members and friends impregnated most of these girls. A girl's biological father was often the sexual assailant. . . .

Many studies show that the menarche comes at an older age for girls who undertake a regular program of physical exercise starting around eight years of age and that this is not accompanied by other undesirable effects on health. . . .

The attitude that menstruation is a "natural event" and therefore beneficial to women in some way has no basis in scientific fact. Since antiquity, a woman became pregnant near the time of the menarche (which was quite late by today's standards) and remained menstruation-free for the rest of her short life, because of continuous cycles of pregnancy and lactation. Regular and recurrent menstruation throughout most of a woman's reproductive years is a fairly recent phenomenon. . . .

The transition to a new reproduction paradigm cannot be achieved overnight, but by the gradual transformation of the old. In this book we propose the abandonment of the traditional paradigm, ordained by Hippocrates in an era of medical naivete, that regular menstruation is good for women. Understanding why cyclical bleeding is unnecessary would be the next step. This would be followed by more women becoming comfortable with the idea of not menstruating. With the cooperation and supervision of their physicians, women would use currently available means to stop menstruation for several months and, growing more confident, would lengthen the menstruation-free interval. As the benefits became evident, other women would be encouraged to to try this procedure and medical researchers would be motivated to find more advanced methods to control menstruation. This would forge a major advance in women's health, led by women. . . .

The pioneer feminist Margaret Sanger [who started the organization renamed Planned Parenthood] wrote, "No woman is completely free unless she has control over her own reproductive system."
Let the new freedom begin.


The authors write chapters explaining the points above and others, including an interesting history of menstruation from the origin of humans until today, and a discussion of menstruation among certain apes, monkeys, shrews and bats.

Did you know that actress Marilyn Monroe's severe case of endometriosis, for which she took pain killers for years and endured many operations, indirectly contributed to her death through accidental drug overdose?

And did you know that the practice of bleeding sick people as a treatment for their illnesses, which continued into the twentieth century, was recommended by the great Greek physician Hippocrates because he saw that certain ailments of women disappeared with the start of menstruation? So, The Father of Medicine must have asked himself, why shouldn't bleeding help other sick people? Among the many people killed or made worse by the popular practice was President George Washington. Premenstrual syndrome - PMS, which was what the ancient Greek had observed - has been around a long time.

There's much more. Read the book! Think about the proposal.

Cat Instruction Manual

Give cats instructions in - no, no, wait a second! - this is a manual about how they operate, not ordering them to do something (good luck on that!). I guess you had better see for yourself:

Help Wanted: Urinary Incontinence Scientist

I am seeking an individual within the following conditions: a Scientist who will provide insight and contextual rationale to both the selection of targets and the design and validation of in vitro and in vivo models to discover drugs for treatment of urinary incontinence. The successful candidate will have a broad understanding of lower urinary tract physiology, pathophysiology and pharmacology, including autonomic and somatic control of micturition, and regulation of detrusor function. The candidate will possess a M.S., M.D. or Ph.D. with experience in neurophysiology or pharmacology, with a strong focus on the lower urinary tract and experience with in vivo models of lower urinary tract physiology and pathophysiology. Our client is a leading pharmaceutical firm with research facilities in North Carolina and can provide excellent benefits (health insurance, dental, and vision plan, paid vacation and more). A high impact, high profile position with excellent opportunity for advancement.

Geographic Location of Position: US-NC

If you know anyone that might be interested, please forward this to them or contact:

Stan Sloan


Fax: 609-584-9575

Voice: 609-584-8733 Ext. 218


Tell Your Congressperson You Support the Tampon Safety and Research Act of 1999! Here's How and Why

The BBC wants to hear from you if your cycle is a blessing, makes you creative, if you have experience with menstrual seclusion, or know about current research !

Here's your chance to say how you feel about menstruation!

Please, may I post a letter on your letter page?

I'm researching a documentary for the BBC [British Broadcasting Corporation] about menstruation - myths and facts and blessing or curse.

I have much information about the curse and prejudice but I am finding scant information about the blessing! I was thrilled to find medical information linking surgery for breast cancer and the menstrual cycle and the New Scientist report about differing medication levels required during the 28-day cycle, and the research about eating requirements differing during the cycle etc., but I want to hear from women who have evidence of the cycle as a blessing, for example, artists, writers, etc., who are at their most creative whilst menstruating.

I also want to meet women who practice menstrual seclusion, as with menstrual huts of the past [and of the present; women still use menstrual huts].

And anything and everything to do with research into menstruation.

Next week I am interviewing Mr Peter Redgrove and Penelope Shuttle who wrote the first book on menstruation that offered positive information, The Wise Wound, 1978. I am very excited about asking many questions resulting from the book. If you have any questions for them pertaining to the book or their second book, Alchemy for Women, about the dream cycle corresponding to the menstrual cycle, I would be delighted to forward them to them on your behalf. They are not on the net so any questions would have to have addresses!

Thank you so much for this glorious Web site [many thanks to you for saying that!] and I look forward to hearing from visitors to your site.

Ali Kedge. or


Help Wanted: This Museum Needs a Public Official For Its Board of Directors

Your MUM is doing the paper work necessary to become eligible to receive support from foundations as a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation. To achieve this status, it helps to have a American public official - an elected or appointed official of the government, federal, state or local - on its board of directors.

What public official out there will support a museum for the worldwide culture of women's health and menstruation?

Read about my ideas for the museum. What are yours?

Eventually I would also like to entice people experienced in the law, finances and fund raising to the board.

Any suggestions?

Do You Have Irregular Menses?

If so, you may have polycystic ovary syndrome [and here's a support association for it].

Jane Newman, Clinical Research Coordinator at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard University School of Medicine, asked me to tell you that

Irregular menses identify women at high risk for polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which exists in 6-10% of women of reproductive age. PCOS is a major cause of infertility and is linked to diabetes.

Learn more about current research on PCOS at Brigham and Women's Hospital, the University of Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania State University - or contact Jane Newman.

If you have fewer than six periods a year, you may be eligible to participate in the study!

See more medical and scientific information about menstruation.

New this week: Kotique douche ad (Kotex, U.S.A., 1972) - Venus compressed sanitary napkins, traveling package (U.S.A., probably 1930s - 1940s) - humor

PREVIOUS NEWS | news | first page | contact the museum | art of menstruation | artists (non-menstrual) | belts | bidets | Bly, Nellie | MUM board | books (and reviews) | cats | company booklets directory | costumes | cups | cup usage | dispensers | douches, pain, sprays | essay directory | extraction | famous people | FAQ | humor | huts | links | media | miscellaneous | museum future | Norwegian menstruation exhibit | odor | pad directory | patent medicine | poetry directory | products, current | religion | menstrual products safety | science | shame | sponges | synchrony | tampon directory | early tampons | teen ads directory | tour (video) | underpants directory | videos, films directory | washable pads | LIST OF ALL TOPICS

© 1999 Harry Finley. It is illegal to reproduce or distribute work on this Web site in any manner or medium without written permission of the author. Please report suspected violations to